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Worytko v. County of Suffolk

June 28, 2007

KAREN WORYTKO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COUNTY OF SUFFOLK, SUFFOLK COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT, POLICE OFFICERS, DONNA M. AIELLO, TIMOTHY J. AIELLO, CHRISTINE DEVINE, NICHOLAS HALL AND CAROLYN HALL, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hurley, Senior District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Presently before the Court is the motion by defendants Donna and Timothy J. Aiello (the "Aiellos") for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56.*fn1

For the reasons that follow, the Aiellos' motion is granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are undisputed, unless noted. Plaintiff Karen Worytko ("Plaintiff") brought this action against defendants County of Suffolk, the Suffolk County Police Department, unidentified police officers, the Aiellos, Christine Devine, Nicholas Hall and Carolyn Hall asserting claims under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, and 1986, as well as under state law, for false arrest, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution; she also asserts a violation of her First Amendment rights. The Amended Complaint alleges that Plaintiff was arrested on three separate occasions, viz. June 20, 2002 (for criminal trespass in the fourth degree), August 5, 2002 (for criminal contempt in the second degree), and August 1, 2003 (for criminal contempt in the second degree), and that each arrest was premised upon fraudulent information provided by the Aiellos to the Suffolk County police, with whom they allegedly conspired. By Order dated May 25, 2005, this case was stayed on consent of all parties, including Plaintiff who was then represented by counsel, pending the disposition of Plaintiff's criminal cases.

On January 23, 2006, the Aiellos filed a letter informing the Court that Plaintiff had agreed to an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal ("ACD"), pursuant to New York Criminal Procedure Law § 170.55(2), with regard to all three criminal counts.*fn2 In their letter, the Aiellos contended, inter alia, that Plaintiff's acceptance of the ACDs barred her civil action and requested that Plaintiff voluntarily discontinue her case. They alternatively requested permission to file a motion for summary judgment. Thereafter, Plaintiff's counsel moved to withdraw, which application was granted on March 16, 2006.

Plaintiff subsequently moved for the appointment of counsel. On July 7, 2006, the Court denied Plaintiff's application. Following more correspondence by the parties, on August 17, 2006, the Court issued a briefing schedule with regard to the Aiellos' motion for summary judgment. The Court further ordered that discovery was to remain stayed pending resolution of the motion. The motion is now fully briefed and ready for the Court's review. For the reasons that follow, the motion is granted in part and denied in part, and the matter is referred to Magistrate Judge Arlene R. Lindsay for the issuance of a new discovery schedule.

DISCUSSION

I. Whether Plaintiff's Acceptance of an ACD Bars Her Claims

The Aiellos argue that Plaintiff's acceptance of ACDs on all three criminal charges bars her claims for malicious prosecution, false arrest, false imprisonment, and for violations of the First Amendment. For the reasons that follow, the Court finds that Plaintiff's acceptance of the ACDs bars her claims for malicious prosecution only.

A. Plaintiff's Malicious Prosecution Claims are Dismissed

Under both 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and New York law, a plaintiff asserting a claim for malicious prosecution must demonstrate that her criminal case was terminated in her favor. See Kinzer v. Jackson, 316 F.3d 139, 143 (2d Cir. 2003); Fulton v. Robinson, 289 F.3d 188, 195 (2d Cir. 2002). Here, Plaintiff's criminal cases were resolved when the charges against her were adjourned in contemplation of dismissal. An ACD is not a favorable termination because it leaves open the question of the accused's guilt and thus precludes a claim of malicious prosecution. See Fulton, 289 F.3d at 196; Singleton v. City of New York, 632 F.2d 185, 193 (2d Cir. 1980); Hollender v. Trump Vill. Coop., Inc., 58 N.Y.2d 420, 423, 426 (1983). Accordingly, Plaintiff's malicious prosecution claims, under both state and federal law, are dismissed.*fn3

B. Plaintiff's False Arrest/Imprisonment Claims Are Not Barred*fn4

Under New York law, a favorable termination is not an element of a claim for false arrest. Weyant v. Okst, 101 F.3d 845, 853 (2d Cir. 1996) (citing Broughton v. State, 37 N.Y.2d 451, 457 (1975)). Accordingly, Plaintiff's acceptance of the ACDs does not bar her from bringing a ...


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